Blinken: Charge of genocide is meritless, toll on Gazans in war too high

US secretary of state says discussed hostages, situation in north and need to avoid escalation and return Gazans to their homes with the need to provide aid and prevent more civilian loss; reaffirms US support for Israel

Antony Blinken in Israel
(Video: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem )

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the issue of post-war Gaza on Tuesday during a press conference in Tel Aviv after a week-long visit to Israel. "Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow, they must not be pressed to leave Gaza. The Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] reaffirmed to me today that this is not the policy of Israel's government.”
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Regarding his discussions with Israeli officials, Blinken said, "We also spoke about the tensions on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah continues to launch daily rocket attacks on Israel. As I told the War Cabinet, the United States stands with Israel. We're fully committed to working with Israel to find a diplomatic solution that avoids escalation and allows families to return to their homes in Northern Israel and also in southern Lebanon.
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אנתוני בלינקן
אנתוני בלינקן
Antony Blinken in Israel
(Photo: U.S. Department of State)
“Finally we continue to discuss how to build a more durable peace and security for Israel within the region as I told the Prime Minister every partner that I met on this trip said that they're ready to support a lasting solution that ends the long-running cycle of violence and ensures Israel's security, but they underscored that this can only come through a regional approach that includes a pathway to a Palestinian State.”
“These goals are attainable but only if they're pursued together. To make this possible Israel must be a partner - extremist settler violence carried out with impunity, settlement expansion, demolitions, and evictions all make it harder, not easier, for Israel to achieve lasting peace. The Palestinian Authority also has a responsibility to reform itself. if Israel wants its Arab neighbors to make the tough decisions, Israeli leaders will have to make hard decisions themselves,” he added.
At the beginning of his remarks, Blinken said, "We know that for the people who are most affected by the attacks time moves differently. Immediately before this, I met with the families of hostages being held in Gaza and with hostages who have been released. For them, every day, every hour, every minute, that they're separated from their loved ones is an eternity.”
He added, “President Biden addressed the people of Israel and made a very simple pledge: the United States has Israel's back. The friendship between our nations is truly exceptional. It's our unique bond.”
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אנתוני בלינקן ויואב גלנט
אנתוני בלינקן ויואב גלנט
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Antony Blinken
(Photo: Elad Malka)
Blinken also talked about the situation in Gaza, saying, “Time feels different for families in Gaza as well, hundreds of thousands of whom are experiencing acute food insecurity. For the mother or father trying to find something to feed a hungry child. The passage of another day without food is excruciating.”
“Time also feels different for Israelis and Palestinians whose loved ones have been killed. For them, time falls into before and after, filled with a loss that most of us will never know and cannot fully imagine. This immense human toll is one of the many reasons that we continue to stand with Israel in ensuring that October 7th can never happen again,” he added.
“It's also why we're intensely focused on bringing the remaining hostages home, addressing the humanitarian crisis, strengthening protection for civilians, and preventing the conflict from spreading. We're working to forge a lasting peace and security in this region.
"We believe the submission against Israel to the International Court of Justice distracts the world from all of these important efforts and moreover the charge of genocide is meritless. Those who are attacking Israel — Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter Iran — continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.
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ישראל כץ פגישה עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן ב תל אביב
ישראל כץ פגישה עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן ב תל אביב
Antony Blinken in meeting with Foreign Minister Israel Katz
(Photo: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP)

'Daily toll on children is far too high'

After previously visiting Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, Blinken said, "All of those leaders share our concern about the spread of the conflict. All of them are committed to using their influence to deter new fronts from opening. All express great concern about the number of civilians killed. We know that facing an enemy who hides in schools and hospitals makes this incredibly challenging, but the daily toll on civilians, particularly children, is far too high.”
He added, “Important progress has been made in increasing the amount of aid getting into Gaza, including by opening Kerem Shalom. For children, the effects of long periods without sufficient food can have lifelong consequences. I underscored in our meetings today that more food, more water, more medicine, and other essential goods need to get into Gaza and then once they're in, they need to get more effectively to the people who need them.
“Israel needs to do everything it can to remove any obstacles from crossings to other parts of Gaza, improving deconfliction procedures to ensure that the aid can move safely and securely. The United Nations is playing an indispensable role in addressing the humanitarian needs in Gaza,” he said.
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נפגש כעת בארבע עיניים עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן, בלשכתו בקריה בתל אביב
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו נפגש כעת בארבע עיניים עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן, בלשכתו בקריה בתל אביב
Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
“We also discussed Israel's military campaign in Gaza. We continue to offer our best advice for how Israel can achieve its central goal of ensuring that October 7th can never be repeated, as Israel's campaign moves to a lower intensity phase. We agreed today on a plan for the UN to carry out an assessment mission to determine what needs to be done to allow Palestinians to return safely to homes in the north. This is not going to happen overnight, but the mission will start a process that evaluates these obstacles and how they can be overcome.”
Talking about hostilities against Israel on other fronts, Blinked said, “A number of actions are being taken by the Houthis or other Iranian proxies in Iraq in Syria that threaten stability. We're determined to not see escalation, that we won't have the conflict spread and we've made that very clear.
“But of course, if our personnel if our forces are threatened or attacked, we’ll take appropriate steps. We'll protect them. We've demonstrated that in the recent past. I'm not going to speculate on what will happen in the future, we just want to make clear that if these actions by the Houthis continue there'll be consequences, I'm not going to say anything beyond that.”
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